Clutch triple propels Aspen past Basalt |

Clutch triple propels Aspen past Basalt

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – Aspen was locked in a tight battle in the middle innings of Thursday’s game with rival Basalt. Just as he has all season, Taylor Mayer changed his team’s fortunes with one swing.

With the bases loaded in the fourth inning, the junior lead-off hitter drilled a two-strike offering from Longhorns starter Corey Ostrander to the warning track in center, clearing the bases. He later came around to score on a passed ball, stretching the Aspen lead to 6-1. The Skiers, who scored five runs in the inning, withstood a Basalt rally down the stretch and pulled out a 6-5 win, clinching a regular-season series sweep of their downvalley rivals.

“He’s our gamer. He’s just been stepping up this year when a big hit is needed and making it happen,” Aspen head baseball coach Nate Grinzinger said of Mayer. “He flew the center fielder’s head and hit it to the part of the fence that said 414 [feet]. … That was a game changer.”

Lamont Gross opened the bottom of the fourth with a single and later scored on a double from Zack Babich, who homered twice the last time these two teams met.

After Ostrander hit Daniel Munger, a Skiers player reached when his attempted bunt was mishandled, loading the bases.

Mayer, who was 3-for-4 with a clutch two-out hit in Tuesday’s win over Grand Valley, made Basalt pay. He was 2-for-4.

“We really got it done in that fourth inning,” Grinzinger said. “The bottom part of the order really produced a lot of runs today. My sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth [hitters] all scored in the fourth … and scored five runs in the game.”

Gross singled and scored on a Munger base hit in the second inning, giving Aspen a 1-0 lead.

Basalt pushed across a run against Skiers starter Chris Dreher one inning later on a Blake Scherer single. Dreher pitched just three innings before being lifted because of a disciplinary issue, Grinzinger said.

Anderson Cole, making just his second appearance of the season since recovering from an MCL injury, struck out three in two innings of work. He surrendered just one hit and one unearned run; Kenny Resch reached on an error and scored on Scherer’s triple.

“He hits his pinpoint location every once in a while, but not consistently right now as most humans wouldn’t having not thrown much,” Grinzinger said of the 2009 3A Western Slope player of the year. “Every once in a while he looks like he hasn’t missed a day.”

The Longhorns took advantage of two errors, a walk and a hit batsman to score twice in the sixth, pulling to within two at 6-4.

Chantry West closed the gap to one in the top of the seventh, when he doubled and later came around to score on a groundout. Leif Mosher shut the door from there, however, inducing a flyout to preserve the Aspen win – its fourth in 10 games.

“We were pretty much in command the whole time,” Grinzinger said. “They chipped away a little bit, piece by piece, but we held on.”

The Skiers host a doubleheader with Gunnison – a team with which they are battling for the Slope’s fifth and final playoff spot – at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday in Grand Junction. (Those games, like Thursday’s, were moved because of expected inclement weather in the valley.)

Basalt will host Coal Ridge at 4 p.m. Tuesday. Head coach Craig Frederick did not return a call seeking comment.

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